The new Government Resolution of the Czech Government No 443 of April 23, 2020 has repealed the former Government Resolution No 387 of April 6, 2020. For more details on the old one see our article "Rules for Czech cross-border commuters during the coronavirus pandemic". The new rules are relevant for commuters, but they also provide for some new opportunities both for Czech, EU citizens and third-country nationals to enter and leave the Czech Republic or vice versa. It is said that the procedure should be a “simplified” one. The rules apply for the period of the state of emergency. In the next few days, the Czech Parliament is about to vote on extending the state of emergency beyond April 30, 2020.
Corona test and electronic notification of entry into the Czech Republic
Again, Government Resolution No 443 is a very complicated one. However, there has been a clear innovation: In principle, now, a Corona test is required on entry into the Czech Republic – “Test RT-PCR-CP testing SARS-CoV 2, with a negative result” – certifying that the person has not contracted Covid-19 (Corona). The test must not be older than four days and the traveller must obtain it at his/her own expense (costs currently up to EUR 300). It is the issue date of the test that matters, not the date of the scrape test, but this is not clear from point IV.1 of the Government Resolution. It is unclear in what way the result has to be presented, if a text message or an email with the result is sufficient or whether an original document has to be presented, with a stamp, possibly with an officially certified translation into Czech. Unfortunately, this is not clarified in the Government Resolution. Yet, the Ministry of the Interior has published a specimen on its website, which the physician can fill out in Czech/English. It is not clear whether the use of the specimen is mandatory or not. There is also no indication of when entry is possible in the case of a positive test, e.g. if the test person has already recovered and is no longer contagious.
In principle, the obligation remains for the traveller to notify the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in advance electronically of his/her entry. The link, which is available on the websites of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mzv.cr) as well as the Ministry of the Interior (www.mvcr.cr) is available below the text within article sources. This form must be submitted prior to entry. The traveller is obliged to provide his/her surname, first name, date of birth, address in the Czech Republic, border crossing point and an e-mail or contact telephone number. After submitting the form, the following message will appear: „Thank you. In accordance with Government Resolution No. 387 of 6 April 2020 (sic!), the provided information will be handed over to the Regional Public Health Offices and the Police of the Czech Republic. The provided personal data are stored and used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic only for the aforementioned purposes and are deleted from the register after 30 days from the date of the citizen's return from abroad.“
Departure without restrictions, entry with restrictions and under many exceptions
In principle, foreigners and Czech citizens can leave the Czech Republic without restrictions. Foreigners from another EU member state could not be prevented from leaving the country anyway. The restrictions on entry remain. In principle, foreigners without a residence permit cannot enter the Czech Republic, unless they are subject to an exception. If an exception is granted, a Corona test must also be provided. Business people may make use of the option of entering for 72 hours with proven economic activity (Art. IV.1(i) and 6). These persons do not even have to submit a test. However, the entity confirming the exception must ensure that the persons entering the country comply with the conditions for people working in the area of critical infrastructure. These conditions, in turn, are regulated by another Government Resolution. Frankly speaking, a clear and simple regulation might certainly look a bit different. It is recommended to present a test to avoid unnecessary discussions with the Czech police at the border.
Extensive list of exemptions allowing the travel under Corona restrictions
Other exceptions to the entry ban involve family members of EU citizens and third-country nationals as well as of Czech citizens, diplomats, transit travellers (who, however, are obliged to submit a so-called “Note verbale” from their embassy), critical infrastructure staff and persons meeting “exceptional case of urgency” – see Art. I.1(h). These cases are listed in Art. IV. 2 as the following. Under points (a)–(c): Employees of the integrated emergency system or the mountain rescue service or who carry a blood transport; under point (d): persons who comply with an order of a court or other state authority (it is unclear whether this stipulation also refers to an appointment with a notary, for example) or who have to perform a necessary action of a financial or postal nature, e.g. picking up a letter at a post office or a document at a CzechPoint office); under points (e)–(g): transportation, pick-up etc. of family members, in relation to funerals, or under point (h): other emergencies of humanitarian nature. Therefore, business travellers can use either an exception in the case of economic activity for 72 hours (I.1(i)) or in an exceptional case of urgency (I.1(h)), which is exemplified in IV.2(d) – court hearing, other appointments with authorities, etc. Obviously, however, these cases must be proven by appropriate documentation.
Notification of the trip or notification to the health authorities
Those wishing to enter the Czech Republic must declare their entry electronically. Following that, they must comply with strict movement regulations. In some cases, the persons must also endure quarantine measures for 14 days. In other cases, the submission of a new test is necessary.
For commuters, basically, the rules have remained the same (Art. I.3), although a test may be required (Art. I.8 and IV.1). What is new is that entries and exits, and/or entry and exit for a maximum of 24 hours in the case of farmers, entrepreneurs and persons with an urgent reason, are also possible without the obligation to present a test. For commuters, the 14-day domestic – 14-day international rule remains in place. Privileged commuters, whose travel is linked with the Corona crisis, i.e. in the health and social services, critical infrastructure and basic security sectors are exempt, but only if they can present a verbal note (Note verbale) from their embassy.
Summary and outlook
Even though entry and exit regulations are presented as having been liberalised, it can hardly be said that this is the case. The same is true for „Evropa bez bariér“ (Barrier-free Europe). An important element of the new regulation is the obligation to present a negative Corona test on entry. The new rules apply for the period of the state of emergency, currently until April 30, 2020, but probably until the end of May 2020. The crucial question will be, whether restrictions on entry and exit will remain in place after the end of the state of emergency and until effective Corona vaccinations or drugs become available. Unfortunately, this is rather likely. At present, the restrictions are disproportionate and, therefore, may be illegal under both national and EU law. This is because the risk of infection is roughly the same both domestically and abroad when the precautionary measures in force in the EU and outside the EU are observed. Therefore, border closures are pointless.
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